I've mentioned before that I work very part-time at Provisions, a fantastic little bakery/cafe in Pelham, NY. (For local Westchester readers, it just won "Best Prepared Foods South" in Westchester Magazine's Best Of 2008 awards). The owner, Nannette Conners, received a request a couple of weeks ago from a soon-to-be bride who wanted a cake that recreated the night she and her now-fiancee got engaged. They were on a futon and both were wearing casual clothes (she was in black and white checked pajama pants - a detail that you'll see later in the photos).
I made the people (I still don't know their names, so I've been calling them Ken and Barbie) out of gumpaste, something I've never done before but thought it would be fun to try. It was fun, but I decided almost at the beginning that they DEFINITELY were going to be cartoony-looking people, rather than trying to replicate them exactly.
In addition to the checked pj pants, she (Barbie) gave us specifics -- he (Ken) was wearing a blue shirt and a backwards baseball cap, she wore a pink t-shirt and had on big silver hoop earrings, AND there was a leopard print pillow on the couch next to her.
My favorite part about Barbie was the hair. I used a garlic press to make it, but gumpaste is incredibly sticky and completely gummed up the press the first couple times I used it. The bangs came together perfectly, and there was actually some resemblance!
The next day I transported Barbie and Ken in a shoe box to the bakery where I worked with Nanette to figure out how to make the cake. Turned out it was easy enough. We stacked two sheet cakes, cut it in half, and cut one of the pieces in half again. It looked a little top heavy, so I took of one layer and we had the dimensions we were looking for. The complete perfectionist side of me wanted to spend the next four hours making the futon look as realistic as possible, but I had to move on!
My first thought with the checked pants was to use black food coloring (liquid food coloring watered down with vodka works best) to paint black dots on the pants but this time the perfectionist side of me won out and I hand painted the checks on the pants. In the future I'd probably just do the dots because that was easily the longest process of the whole projected!
Two minutes before closing time I put Ken and Barbie on the couch of a trial run - they looked pretty good, and I hear the bride was happy. I'm looking forward to doing more of these - anyone need a gumpaste likeness of themselves?
Ken, without a hat or hair
Barbie, including silver hoop earrings
Painting Barbie's pants
Cutting the cake, a little too top heavy
The finished cake!